Five hidden cultural treasures of Sri Lanka – part 2

We continue with our pick of five hidden cultural treasures of Sri Lanka, looking at the Aluvihare Rock Temple, Yapahuwa Rock Fortress and the towering Avukana Buddha statue.
If you missed it, first check part 1 of our five hidden cultural treasures of Sri Lanka.

Aluvihare Rock Temple

A mix of lush scenic beauty and scared temples, Aluvihare contains ancient relics that date back to the 3rd century as well as temples that are still used by Buddhist monks to this day.

Aluvihare is known as the place in which Buddha’s teachings were first written down. Before this the teachings were traditionally taught and passed down the generations by word of mouth but a deadly famine that nearly wiped out the population at Aluvihare spurred the monks to write down the teachings, recording them on dried palm leaves that grow on the nearby tress, and thus ensuring the teachings future.

The thirteen caves at Aluvihare contain many interesting ancient relics and original paintings spanning the rich history of the complex and a visit to the site is well worth it.

Yapahuwa Rock Fortress

Created as a formidable defence for King Bhuvanekabahu during the 13th century, the Yapahuwa Rock Fortress is perched on a granite outcrop that towers over the surrounding plains.

Today it is the ornamental staircase up to the fortress that is the main attraction, with the steps flanked by decorated walls containing female figurines and imposing lion sculptures standing guard on either side (the very same lion sculpture that appears on the Rs 10 note). The stairs leads up to an impressive original doorway and the foundations of the ancient temple of the tooth – where the ancient king kept the revered tooth relic during his rule.

Aukana Buddha statue

Standing at 12 meters tall and skilfully carved, the Aukana Buddha statue is one of the best examples on the entire island.

Carved into the massive granite rock face, the forty foot figure is an example of Adhayamudra – a gesture which represents peace, protection and fearlessness.

Standing close to the statue you will come to realise the skill of its creator, with its perfect alignment and impeccable form with realistic body shape delicately covered in a light robe. The facial features reinforce the gesture; placid and without fear.


If you’re interested in visiting any of these hidden cultural treasures by including them within your Sri Lankan tour, please get in touch!

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